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June 13, 2024

Herr's Flavored by Philly contest is down to these 3 chips inspired by local dishes

Customers can sample and vote on finalists — Mom-Mom's Kitchen pierogi, Romano's stromboli and Talluto's ravioli — through Aug. 9.

Food & Drink Herr's
herr's flavored by philly finalists Provided Image/Herr Foods Inc.

The finalists for Herr's Flavored by Philly contest are Talluto’s Cheese Ravioli and Marinara, Romano’s Stromboli Special Hot Stromboli and Mom-Mom’s Kitchen Potato Pierogi.

In the past few months, Herr's received over a thousand chip flavor ideas based on local businesses through its Flavored by Philly contest, and now the Chester County-based snack maker has narrowed the pool down to three. 

The 2024 finalists include Mom-Mom’s Kitchen Potato Pierogi, Talluto’s Cheese Ravioli and Marinara, and Romano’s Stromboli Special Hot Stromboli, Herr's announced Monday. The business-inspired flavors were nominated by customers.

RELATED: Herr's collaborates with Philly artists from South Fellini, Dirty Hands Studio on chip-themed merchandise

The three new flavors are now available for purchase in major retailers, wherever Herr's is sold. Consumers can sample them and vote for their favorite online through Friday, Aug. 9. The business that corresponds with the winning flavor will receive a $10,000 prize, while the person who nominated the flavor will receive $5,000.

The winner will join last year's victor Corropolese Bakery, the Montgomery County-based business that won with the tomato pie-flavored potato chip. For the inaugural contest in 2022, Herr's did not require flavors to have a small business connection, and the Long Hots & Sharp Provolone flavor won.

"The whole reason that we do this (contest) is that our company has deep roots in Philly, and we like this idea of working with other small businesses," said Ed Herr, chairman and CEO of Herr’s. "Trying to narrow down (the finalists) is really the toughest part of the job. Philadelphia has so many unique, great flavors." 

According to Herr, one way that the Herr's team narrowed down the finalists was by looking at which flavors would mesh well with the potato chip, which he says is a "good carrier of just about any flavor, although there are some that just don't line up." Once the finalists were selected, the Herr's team worked closely with Mom-Mom's Kitchen, Romano's Stromboli and Talluto's in the research and development, ensuring that the potato chip captured the essence of each of their products. 

"We get a lot of interest year after year; this is the third year, and the first year was great, the second year was even better," Herr said of Flavored by Philly. "We're thinking that this year we'll probably get even more votes. And obviously it's a way to give back to the community, so it's just been a win-win. It represents our culture and our company."

Here's what to know about the 2024 finalists:

Mom-Mom’s Kitchen: Potato Pierogi

mom-mom's kitchen herr'sProvided Image/Herr Foods Inc.

The Mom Mom’s Kitchen team poses with their Potato Pierogi flavored Herr's Flavored by Philly chips.

The Mom-Mom's Kitchen-inspired chip captures the sweet, creamy and tangy flavors of the restaurant's signature potato pierogi.

"Potato pierogi; it's our classic," said Kaitlin Wines, who co-owns Mom-Mom's Kitchen. "If you're talking Polish, the potato is just a classic flavor. It's just super tasty. And it's kind of your basic starting point when you want to try pierogies with us."

Wines met her business partner, Ryan Elmore, back in 2007 when they bartended together in Philly. Together, they launched Mom-Mom's in 2013, serving pierogies from a food cart. The name of the company is inspired by Wines' maternal grandmother, Rita Chmielewski, who is 101 years old. They now operate out of a takeout window at 1505 South St. and are about a month away from opening a new location at 3124 Richmond St. in cooperation with Carbon Copy Brewing.

When it came to making the chip for the contest, Wines said her team worked closely with Herr's food scientists, who "really listened" to them and went through several iterations before nailing the final flavor, which she says is "perfect." If they do win, Wines envisions staff parties and putting some of the cash into the Port Richmond location, but just being a finalist already feels like a victory.

"I feel like we're already winners. You know, the fact that people have even thought to write in about Mom-Mom's, just makes me really proud and grateful," she said. "My Mom-Mom, she's 101 right now, so it's huge for her, you know?" 

Mom-Mom's Kitchen is about a decade old, and Wines said she feels "honored" to be up against decades-old institutions like Talluto's and Romano's. She's also excited to shine a light on Polish American food. 

"Philly is just an amazing food city," Wines said. "So the fact that we are included at all is a big honor, but especially for Polish food, I'll say, because it's totally underrepresented in Philly. It's time for pierogies to shine because there's a lot of people in Philly that it's really nostalgic for them. I've had people cry in my restaurant because something reminded them of their grandmother. I just think that part of it, giving the Polish community a little recognition, is really fun, so we're excited about that."

Romano’s Stromboli: Special Hot Stromboli

romano's stromboli herr'sProvided Image/Herr Foods Inc.

Romano’s Stromboli is a finalist for the Herr's Flavored by Philly contest, with chips that taste like its Special Hot stromboli variety.

The Romano's Stromboli-inspired potato chip is reminiscent of the "Special Hot Stromboli," which has layers of meats and cheeses. Peter Romano, the third-generation owner of the establishment, jokes that he had "some other suggestions" for Herr's about a chip flavor but that a customer nominating Special Hot feels like "very honest appraisal" of how much people enjoy the product.

"It's tremendous to be recognized in this way," Romano said. "We've been around for a long time, but this is quite a bit of attention that comes to what Herr's is doing here with the Flavored by Philly contest, and so to be among one of three businesses in the Philadelphia area recognized for a special flavor, it's great."

Romano's, located at 246 Wanamaker Ave. in Essington, opened in 1950 and is known as the "birthplace of the stromboli sandwich." Romano's grandfather, Nazzareno Romano, wanted to bring over the idea of stuffed bread from his home country of Italy. According to Romano, his grandfather saw how popular hoagies were, especially among laborers on the Delaware riverfront right near the shop. So, he took a "special Italian bread mix" and put in some items that you'd find in a hoagie — like boiled ham, capicola, cheese and peppers — left out foods that wouldn't bake well, like lettuce, closed it up into a "log" shape and baked it.

The idea for the name came from a 1950 film, and thus the stromboli was born. Romano believes it spread throughout the country thanks to his restaurant's proximity to the Philadelphia airport, but notes that most restaurants today make it differently by rolling up meat in pizza dough instead of as an "artisan bread sandwich" like Romano's.

The "Special Hot" flavor that inspired the Herr's chip was created by Romano's father, Peter, in the early '60s. The stromboli contains ham, cotteghino, capicola, genoa salami, prosciuttini and pepperoni.

"The Special Hot, I call that a flavor explosion in your mouth," Romano said. "There's a lot of subtleties in that. It's a really interesting flavor, and so it's a pretty popular item."

Romano and his 92-year-old father, whose residence is connected to the restaurant, were highly involved in the R&D process for the chip version. Romano says it has a "snap" to it and a "sassy" flavor that captures the stromboli.

"Who knows what may come about from the exposure? I'm happy to have it," Romano said. "It's for my family, how many years we've been involved with this, and it's nice that my grandfather and my father, because this sandwich was something that he developed, is going to get some attention from it. So I think it's going to be an exciting summer ... I might sell some stromboli with that, too. Some people might get curious about the sandwich that inspired the chip. And maybe they'll come down and visit."

Talluto’s: Cheese Ravioli and Marinara

talluto's herr'sProvided Image/Herr Foods Inc.

Talluto’s is a finalist in the 2024 Herr's Flavored by Philly competition. Herr's created a chip that tastes like the restaurant's cheese ravioli and marinara.

The Talluto's-inspired chip holds "robust" cheese flavors of ravioli and "bright" marinara sauce. The Talluto's team is "giddy" over the Italian market being named a finalist, according to third-generation owner Joseph Talluto — who runs the business with his three sisters. He also notes that it feels "gratifying" that a customer put them up for it. 

Talluto's is located in the Italian Market at 944 S. 9th St. and also has stores in Ridley Park and Norristown. Cheese ravioli was the first item they sold when Talluto's father and grandfather opened the business in 1967.

"We've been known for that product since (the store's) inception," Talluto said. "As a company, our values are all about the quality. So we specify the milk that's used in the ricotta, the process for making the ricotta, the flour that we use in the product. It's a real simple item, but it's been our namesake for a long time. And then the marinara sauce, we produce that with California tomatoes, fresh herbs. So it's a pretty simple product, all of our products are, but we just let the quality shine. And cheese raviolis are what everybody loves."

Talluto said he was "blown away" when he tasted the ravioli-inspired chip, since Herr's really captured "all the nuances" of the marinara, including the sweetness of ripe tomato, fresh garlic and herbs, with a ricotta taste in the background. 

"It's a chip that everybody is like, 'Wow. This chip is really good.' Everybody wants to eat the whole bag," he said. "It's really interesting how they were able to do it, and how they gave us a lot of say. So if there's something that we didn't like, or something we thought they didn't hit on, they gave us a lot of autonomy with that. They were very supportive of of our interest in this process. It's really, really cool."

If Talluto's does win Flavored by Philly 2024, Talluto said he will give back to the community. But he says the contest is bigger than the cash winnings.

"It's not about the prize; it sounds cliche, but it's about the journey," he said. "All small businesses are part of the same community. And I can't tell you how many other businesses that we collaborate with and share the good, the bad and the ugly about running a small business, and all the challenges and all the victories. So, we don't really see it as a competition. We see it as a great promotion of the community and local businesses."

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